With the NFL season less than 24 hours away and the San Francisco 49ers’ bitter rival, the Seattle Seahawks, hosting the opening game, it bears considering just how the 49ers can overcome the Seahawks. Yes, Seattle did win the Super Bowl this season. Yes, they now have a healthy (for now) Percy Harvin, and no, they do now show many signs of slowing down as more and more 49ers find themselves on the trainer’s table or in legal trouble. Nevertheless, the 49ers can outdo and overcome Seattle in 2014-15.
First and foremost, the 49ers’ players must put behind them all of the drama of the offseason: holdouts, contract disputes, Jim Harbaugh and the weird trade/contract rumors that popped up about him, Aldon Smith and his legal trouble and suspension, Ray McDonald and his likely suspension in a week or two, and injuries galore. Despite all of this, the 49ers still have a lot of talent–and a lot of young players that will now get a chance to show just why they were drafted to begin with. The 49ers may be bruised, but by and large, they drafted for this, and they can overcome any obstacle.
Secondly, the 49ers’ secondary must pull together. They may have 3 new starters, returning only second-year man Eric Reid, but the 49ers’ defensive coaching staff is excellent, especially in the secondary. This group need not be top-5, but they need to be respectable.
Patrick Willis must also maintain the intensity in the linebacking corps. It appears that there will be quality replacements for both Smith and Navarro Bowman during their respective absences. These players cannot be replaced, but a huge drop-off does not seem likely. The 49ers can not let that happen if they wish to overcome Seattle in the NFC West.
The same goes for a defensive line with Justin Smith but without Glenn Dorsey and likely soon to be without McDonald. We will see what “due process” leads to, but this may be where Tank Carradine and Tony Jerod-Eddie finally get a chance to play.
On offense, Frank Gore needs to maintain some level of awesomeness, but Carlos Hyde is also looking strong. The offensive line needs to gel–and fast–after Alex Boone‘s recent return. This should be the least of the 49ers’ problems in their quest to overcome their NFC West rivals.
Most importantly, however, it all boils down to Colin Kaepernick and how he works with his weapons. How far this team goes ultimately depends on him. If he plays well, the 49ers will overcome the Seahawks.